A few years ago, I sat on a stage, for a women’s ministry event, with a panel of women from our church. An adult woman from every decade was represented on the stage to participate in a question and answer dialogue. The point was to show generational differences and similarities within the responses to questions. It was quite a fun evening. One of the questions posed was, “What is the best piece of marriage advice that you have been given?” My answer caused both gasps and giggles from the sanctuary.
Jason and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary this week. One of my friends recently noted that not only does our marriage seem stable, we also seem to genuinely like and enjoy one another. She is right. We have a pretty happy marriage, though not exempt from its challenges, and would both choose one another again if we could go back in time. Most days, we function as well seasoned teammates. It has not always been like this, though.
Our first few years of marriage were very hard. There is so much to that story, I won’t share it today. But, I remember feeling disappointed that my life, my marriage, wasn’t like I thought it would be. One day I was trying to express this to my husband. I said, “I just want to be adored.” His reply is the best piece of marriage advice that I have ever received.
He stared back at me and said, “Then, why don’t you try being adorable?”
I know, it sounds harsh. The audience didn’t quite know how to absorb it when I shared this advice with them. Let me assure you that my husband owns his part in contributing to our struggles early on and he wasn’t telling me that my disappointment was my fault. He was giving me an honest response. I went on to explain that really, it is so simple. We are a culture obsessed with romance novels, chick flicks, and hallmark movies, that basically tell us that every woman can have a happy ending with a handsome and charming man who accepts her just as she is. This message does us a disservice. The social movements, that tell us to be who we want to be and act how we want to act while demanding that every man should just accept those realities, speak lies to us.
We are not inherently deserving of adoration. If we want to be adored, we need to be adorable. That doesn’t mean that we should be a doormat or a “yes” person. It does not mean a woman should stay in a verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive relationship. It doesn’t mean that you have to change who you are. But it may mean that you need to change how you act. It meant that for me.
The movie Wall-E was released a few years after my plea and my husband’s response. The captain makes a profound statement that stayed with me. He says, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live!” This message was the attitude that I chose to take during that very hard season at the beginning of my marriage. I wasn’t willing to live in survival mode in my marriage. I wanted more. If I wanted to be adored, then I would learn to be adorable. My marriage is still hard at times, like everyone else’s. And, I still have to consciously work at this.
In my marriage, being adorable means that I work to love my husband with the same level of commitment that I love myself. It means that I show up, willingly, to invest in our marriage. I do my best to speak Jason’s love language. It means that I let him know that I need him as a partner and appreciate when he does his best to show up for me in ways that speak my love language. Being adorable means that I do my part to deescalate tensions that are guaranteed to arise. (This one is especially a challenge for me.) It means that I look for ways to make life easier for him.
This is what works in my marriage. To my husband’s credit, it works in part because he is doing his part to nurture our relationship too. Adorable to your husband likely looks different in your marriage. Want to know what he finds adorable? Ask him. Then choose to work on being adorable in at least one way for him. My guess is that as he finds you adorable, you will begin to feel more adored.